Here at Wales Arts Review’s #GE2015 | Live Blog we aim to keep you up-to-date with the latest developments of the General Election; from links to interesting news feeds to op-eds, we will attempt to offer an alternative election experience.
Earlier, Matthew Mathias asked us to think of the candidates:
What I am trying to say to you is if you are watching the election night coverage, spare a thought for those candidates. Some of them will have been working for years for tonight and some of them without any real hope of winning. Not all politicians are the same, not all political parties are the same. These are hackneyed lazy comments borne from pig headed ignorance from people who think it’s somehow cool to drop out but still OK to snipe from the side lines. These Boo Boys (or Girls) can go boil their heads.
There are almost 4000 candidates standing for 650 positions. There are more losers than winners but sometimes standing up for what you believe in is winning in itself. Yes it’s not really the done thing to envelop our would-be politicians with love and understanding but I don’t actually care, I am not trying to get your vote. So election night, cheer your goodies and boo the baddies but appreciate the work done by them all and don’t forget their loyal teams of unpaid volunteers who leaflet, canvass and mither people to put up a sign. I flipping love politics and without all of these people I’d have to find another shitty hobby.
04:00am Ben Glover – The Night of the Long Knives for Pollsters
Up until about six hours ago, everyone thought they knew exactly how the election would pan out: Conservatives down slightly, Labour gaining ground everywhere except Scotland and the Liberal Democrats significantly losing out. It was all so simple. It was narrative supported by every opinion poll from the last six weeks. Then at the stroke of 10pm, everything we thought we knew was confounded.
How did the opinion polls get it so wrong?
All commentators agree that the polls were correct up until the start of the week, there was little doubt that the Conservatives and Labour would get roughly an equal share of the popular vote. Then, depending on the distribution of the vote in marginal constituencies, the winner (or the largest party at least) would emerge. But something happened.
It was possibly the merciless attack on Ed Miliband by the right wing papers over the past few days that altered people’s voting behaviour, or the predicting of election results in a First-Past-The-Post system, with so many competing variables, is harder than pollsters initially thought. Admittedly it is not a ‘Dewey Defeats Truman’ scale mistake, but there must be a review on how data is collected and analysed.
02:40am Ben Glover – The Oracle of Brandenburg
When asked by David Cameron about forming a coalition government, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave a prophetic answer – ‘The little party always gets smashed!’ Today, Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats have learnt just how hard the little guys get kicked.
Starting this election campaign with 57 MPs, the Liberal Democrats are currently staring down the barrel of a shot gun, where they stand to lose 47 MPs. The core of the Party’s established figures such as Nick Clegg, David Laws, Charles Kennedy, Danny Alexander and Simon Hughes are all in the firing line of electoral failure. This is not the minor inconvenience of losing Lembit Opik at the last election; this is a full scale blood bath.
The narrative of ‘we sacrificed ourselves for the good of the country’ is a bitter pill to swallow for the people that supported them in 2010; most of whom were looking for an alternative left of centre party that wasn’t Gordon Brown’s Labour. Instead they formed a coalition with the Tories, betraying the trust of many that had faith in Nick Clegg’s assertion that he was going to ‘hard wire fairness into British politics’.
Well, tonight Nick Clegg will find out two things: firstly he has discovered that the British electorate have long memories and secondly they can kick really hard!
01:40am Ben Glover – A curious case of backslapping
Whilst watching the BBC’s coverage of this election it is hard to miss a pattern that is emerging – every time a result is announced the first question that is asked is ‘does this fit in with our exit polls and predictions?’
This is a most curious case of self justification and affirmation that I have witnessed on any election coverage and for me, a self confessed politics junkie, that is a lot of elections. The BBC are trying their hardest to make this election all about them, with the infantile jibe of ‘I told you so’ following each result. This could be very tiresome by the end of the night. I wonder if Fox News is so insecure about its wildly inaccurate assertions. Of course not, it’s Fox News!
I just worry for the increasingly flustered Professor John Curtice, who seems to be the BBC’s patsy if its exit polls aren’t correct and continues to repeat the mantra of 22,000 sample size like he’s a stuck record player.
01:05am Ben Glover – The chimera of TV debates
With news filtering through that Plaid Cymru are not doing as well as hoped or expected, even considering Leanne Wood’s impressive performances during the televised debates, it is worth recalling Dr Bela Arora’s analysis of the TV debates:
It can be useful to couple analysis of televised debates with that of associated social media ‘chatter’. That is to say that analysis of the televised election debates should not just focus on viewing figures alone as that ignores the after burn effect of continuing comment on social media. Over a third of those aged 18-24 said their vote would be influenced by something they read on social media. This would suggest that the political parties can potentially build on the immediate impact of televised debates and any related bounce in the polls by harnessing the power of social media to extend the platform of discussion.
In sum, it is worth reinforcing that televised debates represent one communications data point in a political campaign. The polls have a tendency to fluctuate immediately following a debate but this does not represent a longer term perspective on public opinion and voter behaviour. Some would argue that televised debates may have had a role to play in increasing voter turnout in the 2010 General Election, but determining whether they influence the outcome is not so clear. Looking ahead, televised debates are likely to remain a dimension of how the campaigning game is played, but are unlikely to decide the game itself.
12:15am Ben Glover – Scotland the Swayed
One of the biggest themes of this election has been the rise of the SNP in Scotland. Taking all before her, Nicola Sturgeon’s party has an opportunity to utterly decimate the strong hold of Kier Hardy’s Labour Party (though it must be noted that Kier Hardy would not recognise this incarnation of his once socialist dream). Most exit polls believe that the SNP could gain between 52 and 58 of Scotland’s 59 constituencies. Though, Sturgeon openly admits that this is very unlikely.
What this seems to suggest is that the combined effects of the Scottish Independence Referendum and the movement away from its socialist roots by the Labour Party, has left the Scottish people resentful of the traditional parties and open to the idea of change. The SNP have proved that they can organise a government and campaign; the referendum convinced a lot of people that the SNP were the only party with Scotland at its heart. Whilst other parties would have to bend to the will of the national party in Westminster, the SNP was free of such constraints.
However, if the SNP want to gain full independence they must learn from the mistakes of the Parti Québécois – after they gained power and proved that they could successfully work with in the Canadian federal structure, people were less inclined to take the deep plunge into the uncertainty of independence.
11:25pm Ben Glover – Exit from the Beeb
As soon as the clock struck 10pm, a shockwave was sent around the country. The BBC’s exit poll went against all previous polling data, which matched the Conservatives and Labour at roughly 34%, to announce that Tories were going to increase their share of MPs to 316. However, this flies in the face of most other exit polls – YouGov have the Conservatives dropping to 284 with Labour on 263 and Electoral Calculus (the pollsters who were closest in 2010 General Election) have it closer still (Con 280, Lab 274). The only aspect that these polls seem to agree upon is that, in spite of all receiving more press coverage than a royal wedding, Nigel Farage and UKIP will remain on just two seats. Though the percentage share of the vote will only be revealed in the fullness of time, this does not represent a legitimate return of the 12% to 15% that UKIP had previously polled.
Only time will tell which polling organisation was the closest, but it does ask a few important questions: is there an institutional bias or appeasement at the BBC towards the Conservatives? Can the First-Past-The-Post system be genuinely fit for purpose if it produces results so far out of line with people’s voting habits?
10:20pm Jane Oriel
Having cast my vote, I leave my local polling stations with a sense of quiet excitement. For the first time at a general election, I am fully engaged in the process.
Voting is not new for me today. I have always marked my paper with an X. The big difference today is the zeal I’m feeling towards the whole process that carries with it a passion for encouraging people to exercise their vote. I’ve always been a socialist but I can’t credit Ed Miliband for my active political awakening this time round, and I think it unfeasible that the Labour Party and as many rags, tags and bobtails it might take to form a working majority administration, will unleash a utopia of my design on the UK.
No, all credit for my new hunger for activism must be laid squarely at the feet of David Cameron as overseer of his cruel, lying, self-serving administration. During his tenure I have been regularly aghast as I have read, seen and experienced inequality of kinds that I never thought my government, of whichever persuasion, would normalise in the electorate’s name.
10:00pm Ben Glover
Hmmm, I’m sure I’m truly going to regret this – but I’m going to attempt to offer some prediction for the General Election.
- It’ll be a hung parliament (I know, I’m psychic!!!)
- Labour will win 281 seats and the Conservative will win 286
- Houghton & Sunderland South will be the first seat to declare around 11pm
- Jeremy Vine will get so lost in his own analogies that it will be like watching a man trying to explain the finer details of the Duckworth-Lewis method whilst on acid
- Nick Clegg will Lose his Sheffield Hallam seat
It’s the big day and the team at Wales Arts Review have come together to provide you with a playlist of 30-odd top tunes to make the day go off with a bang. If you need some lead in your pencil, look no further than our exclusive collection of Election Day songs.
We have chosen a diverse range of songs, a soundtrack to your box-ticking no matter what your political persuasion. A blue blood Conservative? Well, you can get down to classics like ‘We’re All in this Together’ by the cast of Disney’s High School Musical; or you can bob your head to ‘Born to Rule’ from Black Brothers; if you’ve been involved in Tory politics at all in the last 5 years you’ll have no problem singing along with Oh, Laura’s ‘The Mess You Left Behind’. Your blood is more red of the Labour Party hue? We have ‘The Procession of Popular Capitalism’ from McCarthy there for you; or what about a bit of ‘Politics as Usual’ by Jay-Z to prepare you for government? A Lib Dem? ‘Love me, I’m a Liberal’ should sound as familiar to you as the sound of your leader’s shovel digging into the top soil of your party’s grave. And how about a bit of Silver Firs’ ‘Motherland’ for all you nationalists out there? Green voter? Well, we toyed with the idea of following the mainstream media with this and completely ignoring the most pressing issue humankind has ever faced and having no reference to environmental issues in our playlist, but instead we have tacked on the tail, ‘World Without End’ by A.A. Bondy. And don’t think we’ve forgotten you UKIPers, quivering behind your plastic-coated sofas: Steve Earle has ‘City of Immigrants’ for you, and David Crosby and Graham Nash rock out a bit of ‘Immigration Man’, too. If you still haven’t decided (shake yourself first) and then maybe listen to a few of our issue-based tracks such as ‘N.H.S.’ from controversial punks The Business, or maybe ‘Zero Hours’, ‘Cuts’, or ‘Long Term Plan’ might help you out.
Either way, and whatever your decision, just make sure you vote.